Dental implants

Titanium dental implants are used to replace single missing teeth which are then crowned, or can be used as the base for a bridge for several missing teeth. A hole is drilled into the jawbone and the titanium screw is placed into the cavity, forming a “root”. The bone should then fuse with the implant.


The majority of dental implants are made out of commercially pure titanium. This does not mean that the the implant is made of 100% titanium. Titanium in it's pure form is soft and needs to be hardened by addition of other substances. Sometimes an alloy of titanium is used to give more strength. An article by Schuh et al from 2005 showed that even alloys labelled as "nickel-free" contained nickel.


Screw and abutments used may be made from the same alloy, but sometimes different alloys are used. These might contain small amounts of nickel and gold. Ti-6Al-4V is an example of an alloy containing 90% titanium, 6% aluminium and 4% vanadium. Allergy to aluminium and vanadium may need to be tested as well.


Patients who have a history of metal allergies are advised to take the MELISA® test prior to having dental implants placed. A scientific paper published in 2010 advised that: “The risk of an allergy to titanium is increased in patients who are allergic to other metals. In these patients, an evaluation of allergy is recommended, in order to exclude any problem with titanium medical devices.”


Metal allergy symptoms will vary from patient to patient and may include skin rashes, oral burning sensation, general fatigue, pain and in some instances implant loss. A recent paper on titanium allergy and implants concluded “This review of the literature indicates that titanium can induce hypersensitivity in susceptible patients and could play a critical role in implant failure.”


Other options, for instance zirconium implants, may be considered if a MELISA® test gives a positive result for titanium allergy. Click here to read the article Full-mouth Oral Rehabilitation in a Titanium Allergy Patient.